Friday, August 28, 2015

Patrick Marleau Autograph Card

Well, another season is upon us, and as always the San Jose Sharks seem like they're in complete turmoil. Both disgraced former captains (Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton) are back, as is GM Doug Wilson despite his calling Thornton out and his star center's reply to "shut his mouth".

Tomas Hertl has to rebound from his sophomore slump, head coach Todd McLellan has moved on to coach the Edmonton Oilers after winning gold at the World Cup with Team Canada, and choke-master extraordinaire Peter DeBoer has replaced him behind the bench.
"Peter is a well-respected leader who possesses all of the characteristics we were looking for in our next head coach," general manager Wilson said in a team statement. "He's an extremely intelligent and innovative individual who likes to play an aggressive system. Peter has a track record of extracting the most out of his players and is willing to make tough decisions that are based on achieving team success. We're extremely excited to have him leading our group."
Yes, he's exactly what the Sharks need: a coach who has never won the Stanley Cup and isn't afraid to make unpopular decisions, such as McLellan's stripping Thornton of his captaincy and yet not replacing him, then strapping an "A" to his chest as part of a "leadership group". Tough decisions. Stupid, but tough. And yet, he wasn't able to tell Martin Brodeur to stay on the bench when he clearly became a liability that ultimately cost him his job with the New Jersey Devils. So how come he didn't make THE tough decision?

That's why it seems to me like more of the same for the Sharks: a finish outside the playoff picture, having handed the goaltending duties to Los Angeles Kings backup Martin Jones with Alex Stalock (who couldn't wrestle the #1 gig away from Antti Niemi) as the fall-back plan.

Also - and maybe that stems from my being from Montréal - but when the banners on the ceiling of your arena are just for winning division titles, you've never achieved anything. Only Cup banners are worth hanging in the rafters, and yet:
"There is a tradition here of winning and a challenge to go deep into the playoffs," said DeBoer. "That is my expectation and that is Doug's expectation as well."
Uh huh. Riiiiight.

And all respect due to Marleau, he'll be caught in the crossfire, no longer the star player he once was, therefore unable to carry the team on his shoulders, but too good to be cast aside for an unproven rookie if DeBoer truly wants to win, with an unmovable contract to boot.

He's currently at 988 career points (in 1329 games), so he'll at least get to pass the millennium mark within the first couple of months of play, maybe even in October if he continues his career trend of strong early starts, but his 57 total points last year are a clear sign of his overall decline.

Here he is back when he wore #14 (he now sports #12), from In The Game's 1998-99 Be A Player set, card #120 of the signed insert sub-set (the gold variant), handling the puck and looking at it, so probably in the neutral zone:
He's pictured with the Sharks' teal (then-away) uniform, one that I never understood why it got so much love; I'm a far bigger fan of the garbs they wore from 2007 until 2013, save for the jersey numbers on the front, which are an aberration and a crime against hockey tradition (and good taste, and fashion).

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